Sunday, June 26, 2011
Adam Dunn already at 100 strikeouts
By Doug Padilla ESPNChicago.com
CHICAGO -- While the Chicago White Sox keep giving Adam Dunn opportunities to get out of his season-long doldrums, things only appear to be getting worse.
Dunn reached the 100-strikeout mark in the White Sox's 79th game by whiffing four times in Sunday's 2-1 defeat to the Washington Nationals. Dunn has only played in 67 games.
It was the third time this season Dunn has struck out four times, while he has at least two strikeouts in each of his last six games.
The White Sox's Adam Dunn reacts to his fourth strikeout of the game on Sunday.
Now hitting .173, Dunn listened to the boos rain down on him Sunday from the crowd of 23,797.
Dunn has just two hits in his last 26 at-bats. He is 1-for-53 (.019) against left-handers. He is 14-for-111 (.126) at home.
"We talk to him this morning; we talk to him about it, how we feel about him," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It was a great conversation. But the only thing is, you can pitch batting practice, take extra hitting and talk to them, but in the end of the day, he's the one who has to come out of that. What can you do about it? Nothing. You have to keep plugging in the lineup and make sure he knows we are behind him."
The White Sox's other option is to turn him into a well-paid spectator and give Mark Teahen or Brent Lillibridge some additional at-bats. Dunn is in the first year of a four-year, $56 million contract.
"He will be on the bench tomorrow and the next day," Guillen said about Monday's off day and Tuesday's series opener at Colorado. "I can't bench that guy. He's making how much? All kind of money. We bring him to help us. He's not going to help us on the bench.
"The only way he can help us is to go out there and do it. Sometimes you bench guys not to punish them. You bench people to relax a little bit and don't think about the game. Hopefully that thing helps."
Dunn, who has been approachable and always willing to talk during his struggles, stayed behind closed doors after Sunday's defeat and the White Sox eventually closed the clubhouse before he talked. Others, like Juan Pierre, took up his case for him.
"A lot of the fans here, it's the first time they have seen him play and maybe they're putting a little pressure on him," Pierre said. "Hey, we have his back in here. I know, me personally, that's all I want to say to him. 'I believe in you and we have your back.' As a team I think we should be more vocal about it.
"The fans doing what they're doing, I don't agree with it but they paid for their tickets and want to do it. But this guy is scratching, fighting and clawing and he's not giving away any at-bats. He comes to work every day and I'm just pulling for him."
Support is one thing the White Sox are willing to provide, but specific advice is something else entirely.
"Situations like this, I've been there, a lot of guys have been there," Paul Konerko said. "There's a lot of cooks in the kitchen trying to help him. I try not to say anything unless we just get to talking about it. He's hearing it from a lot of different places right now, so you just try to be supportive."
Konerko knows all about it. He was even benched for a time during the first half of his wayward 2003 season. He ended up batting .234 with 18 home runs and 65 RBIs that season, before turning it around the next year with 41 home runs and 117 RBIs.
"In the grand scheme of things, if he wants to play 13 or 15 years in this game, to have a few bad months is such a blip on the radar screen," Konerko said. "It's hell when you're going through it, but you just got to think big picture. Once you get over that hump and get by it, you're a better player for it, and better hitter and everything will be better for it.
"Once he gets over it, he'll probably be on his way for the next five years in a row. He's been a great teammate even through everything he's going through and I have to respect him for that."
Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.